Slowing down your flow

Local water conservation challenge ‘How Low Flow Can You Go’ expanding into its third year

Kevin Freedman, the founder of the How Low Flow Can You Go challenge, has altered his lifestyle to make living on 25 litres of water a day a reality. Cindy Titus

The average Canadian uses 330 litres of water a day, according to Environment Canada.

It was that statistic that made Kevin Freedman, the Winnipeg man who started a water conservation challenge in 2009, now branded How Low Flow Can You Go, start thinking about how much he could get by on.

“One day I was waiting ... at Polo Park and I started wondering ‘How little water could I live off of?’” said Freedman. “That day I did some rough calculations in my notebook and by the end of the evening I decided I was going to challenge myself to live under 25 litres for a period of a month.”

Freedman challenged himself over the month of June 2009 to use less than 25 litres of water a day for everything, includingdrinking water, bathing, dishes, laundry and flushing the toilet.

“At first it was quite difficult,” he said. “I had to make some changes to my lifestyle, but after about a week or so it became second nature, a habit.”

Over the course of the first challenge, Freedman received recognition through the media and his online blog.

He gained so much attention that afterward, Freedman felt that it had to be done again, but on an even larger scale.

Eleven people from across Canada and the world joined him for the second challenge in 2010 and now for the third challenge, which began March 1, more than 25 people have signed up.

Freedman noted the only goal for making the event annual is to create awareness, which according to Will Ring, a representative of the University of Winnipeg’s Ecological People in Action (ECOpia) student group, is something that can sometimes be easy for people to ignore.

“In Manitoba, we’re lucky in terms of fresh water because we have a lot of it,” he said. “It’s a scarce resource around the rest of the world that pours freely out of our tap. It’s cheap here so we don’t realize how scarce it is.”

According to Manitoba’s Water Protection Handbook, produced by the provincial government, of all the water in the world only 2.75 per cent is fresh water and Manitoba is one of the only places to have direct access to it.

But that will not always be the case.

“The fresh water supply is not growing, but the demand for it is growing. It’s a resource that’s being ignored and it really can’t be,” said Ring.

According to Duane Griffin, acting branch head for water planning and project delivery for the City of Winnipeg, Winnipeggers are very responsible with their water.

“We’re billed quarterly and that bill will tell you how many litres or millilitres you’ve been using,” he said.

According to the 2009 Water Consumption Summary Report (WCSR) put out by the city, the average Winnipegger is actually using closer to 180 litres of water per day, much less than the national average of 330 litres.

“It’s not 25 litres, but it’s definitely better than it has been,” said Griffin.

The WCSR states that water consumption has gone down 27 per cent since 1990, even though Winnipeg’s population has grown substantially.

Still, Freedman feels that there is a lot more than can be done.

“People often don’t see conservation as doable – the fact that myself and 30, 40 or 50 other people are living close to regular lives while severely limiting our water usage shows that people can at least minimally reduce theirs,” he said.

For more information on the challenge, to join or to make a pledge in support of those taking the challenge, visit

Published in Volume 65, Number 21 of The Uniter (March 3, 2011)

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